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someone's down on the floor, kick them!”

someone's down on the floor, kick them!”


Week 2 of American Idol delivers more awful delusional people right into your home. Welcome them all.

I've been corrected. The gay police busted down my door, beat me with their nightsticks, and stomped my stomach with their steel-toed boots until I was taught my lesson. That lesson, once and for all, is that Janet Jackson did not shout "Minneapolis!" in the song "Nasty," as I so carelessly reported last week. It was "Escapade." I am truly sorry for all the people I've hurt.

This apology makes me better than anyone associated with American Idol who had a hand in mercilessly mocking the rotund, red-haired, seemingly developmentally disabled auditioner who appeared on the show last week. It turns out that the young man in question--you remember, he was fast friends with the bug-eyed guy Simon called a "bush baby"--did, once upon a time, participate in the Special Olympics. I mean, yes, I laughed when they made fun of him too. But now I feel just awful. But not that awful; he got an agent out of it. So did Bug-Eyes. And in this life representation is even better than respect. Everyone knows that.

Tuesday night's show...

They're in Memphis and they've digitally erased all the cars and human beings from shots of the city. Every time they show you a shot of a fake-empty street there's a bluesy guitar lick that sproings out at you. It's all very "devil took my woman" and meant to convey the idea that simply everyone in Memphis, from the tall to the small, babies and invalid mee-maws and seersucker-suited lawyers and toothless illegal dayworkers and the reanimated corpse of Colonel Sanders, oh, wait, that's Kentucky, make that the reanimated corpse of Col. Tom Parker--all of them, are auditioning for American Idol.

OK, so here's how I'm going to break this down for you. The audition episodes have no real narrative. There's a pattern of Person Who Can't Sing, Person Who Can't Sing, Person Who Goes to Hollywood, montage of People Who Can't Sing, and maybe a montage of Judges Being Stunned By People Who Can't Sing. And then it just repeats itself. So my recaps for these early weeks can be whatever I decide to make them be, you know? I'm going to just list the ones who make it through and the ones who don't. It's easier that way. For me. If you really care about episode continuity, perhaps you should be watching the actual show instead of relying on some gay nobody sitting on his couch in his boxer shorts to do it for you.

The Yeses:

I refuse to call them Golden Ticket winners, the unofficial name they've been trying to stick on everyone who gets one of the little pee-yellow pieces of paper that means they're going Hollywood. A Golden Ticket is for four bad little boys and girls (and one good one) who visit a chocolate factory. And that's that. But anyway, here they are.

Sundance Head. That's his actual name. Son of one-hit-wonder Roy Head ("Treat Her Right," 1965) and current object of turn-the-straight-man fantasies of virtually every bear I know. And I know a helluva lot of them. Anyway, Sundance Head is also a Too Much Hair Gloop Combined With Bad Haircut Head, a Please Manage My Unruly Goatee Head, and a Why Won't Anyone Tell Him That Class Rings on Chains Around Your Neck Make You Look Dopey Head. But he can sing the ribs off a pig, and I can only imagine a sudden drug dependency intervening in his eventual placement in the top 12, so that means eventually some Idol-commissioned stylist is going to get hold of him and try to fix those personal grooming mishaps by replacing them with worse ones. Can't wait.

A blond chick wearing a weird hippie halter top with a big sparkly boob-medal covering her entire rack. The boob-medal features dangly gauzy streamers. I forget what she sings because she's totally forgettable. Except for the sparkly boob-medal.

Crazy Beard Guy. He has a superlong, bushy beard and back-length hair, like a cross between what's his face from Iron and Wine and Crystal Gayle. He sings Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" more or less interestingly but something tells me he's not got the chops for Celine Dion week.

No-Neck Woman. She's a professional background singer with zero confidence and hunchy shoulders. And she sings really well but seems to be surprised when people tell her she's good. It feels creepy to watch her be so timid. I mean, you make your living as a professional background singer already, presumably for famous people you had to audition for, triumphing over other, lesser-voiced auditioners. What gives with the self-esteem? Stop faking.

The new father who sings "Let's Get It On" with hilarious taking-a-dump vocal strain. He sucks, but he's got a newborn, so that equals backstory. And he's bald like Chris Daughtry. So off he goes to Hollywood.

The Nos:

Male Cheerleader Guy. He brought his entire squad and marching band along with him. He's all cheer-hands and happy smiling gay-face. Simon hates it. The guy keeps singing. I hate it when they do that. Like more is somehow truly more instead of what it really is: a jackhammer drilling in the earhole. They send him out and his squad begins a crazy cheer for him. Cut to Paula, suddenly shaken by a soul-dead Laker Girl flashback, saying, "Cheerleaders, man. They're always there for you." The band keeps blasting a dumb halftime march. Seacrest is being held up by his skinny, skinny calves by other male cheerleaders as he joins in a chant--a not so far-fetched position for him to be in, now that I look at it--and the judges are getting fake-peeved. Simon yells at them all to shut up. Seacrest tells Simon he's being a "prick," but it gets bleeped, of course. These are the moments when I bend to the Seacrest-Enjoyment side of life. My official position is that he's a freaky, joyless, hosting pod, but in the odd moments when he flashes the teensiest bit of humanity, sarcasm, genuine real-person bitterness or humor, then I think he might not be the worst person in the world who's not already running the United States government.

Mush-Mouth Girl. She thinks she can be a "My-er." She's trying to say "Mya," as in the personality-free singer whose hit was...uh...I don't fucking know what hit(s) Mya's had, now that I think about it. This prompts a wacky exchange between the girl and Simon that bears no fruit of understanding whatsoever. Then she tries to sing an Ashanti song, proving two things:

1. This child only likes to listen to songs originally performed by empty, soulless carcasses, and

2. She sings like what would happen if Ashanti swallowed legendary Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle whole and then crapped her out and then that crap sang the song.

The judges tell her she can't sing, and that's her cue to begin a rendition of "Secret Lovers." Did I say I hated it when they started singing again just because they feel like it? I changed my mind. I would pay good money to hear this kid sing that song in its entirety because it's that awesome and weird.

The puka-shell benecked dope who tries to sing "Superstition" like he's got a vocoder embedded in his throat. His fringed-jacket-wearing lady pal comforts him after the fact.

Braces Girl With Big Pink Gums. She sings a Teena Marie song. I like it because she sucks so enthusiastically. In her few seconds before the judges you know she feels like she really is Teena Marie.

The red-haired African American woman. She actually sings really well, but they chop her anyway. Who knows why? Maybe they needed to make sure they had enough bland jugs-tastic white girls with a giant boob-medals and dangling streamers attached to their halter tops going through to Hollywood.

Emotional Guy. He claims he's going to bring "emotional" back to American Idol. Then he flails around and talks his way through the song. The editing of his moments make sure it sounds like he's saying the word "emotional" as many times as possible to maximize the nutjobbery.

The Dumped Guy. He's this enormous fellow whose wife left him and he thinks he's going to get her back if he wins the show. He is not.

Janita. She sings "Disco Inferno" until her tits come this close to falling out of her dress. But Janita's bad singing is just run-of-the-mill. Her speech is what makes her a star. I can't even comment on it in a way that can explain the amazingness of her pre-audition monologue, a soliloquy on style that goes like this (all misspellings are a pitiful attempt to approximate her speaking voice, even though she has to be heard to be really appreciated and loved the right way):

"My style is vurrry important. It has to be. It works in with my confidentiality [sic]. It boostses my confidence in many, many ways. I believe in, you know, dressin' sexy but not too over the top. I believe yurr first appurrance is the appurrance that everybody will always remember, you know. The judges' first impression of me will probably be, well, they'll probably say I'm innocent, well put together, really neat, cah-servative, and very sexy. Very sexy."

I wish that you could just click on her quote and hear a sound clip of how she actually speaks these words because I think I would love to hear Janita read me bedtime stories every night for the rest of my life. Very sexy bedtime stories. Then I want her to adjust her breasts, slip on a pair of fancy sunglasses, point shooting-gun-fingers at me, and dance the hoochy-koo like she's going right now.

Jacked-Up Teeth Guy. He sings "Burning Love." He's very upset.

Included in this episode is a montage of People Who Can't Sing doing their best to can't-sing "Burning Love," including a guy who unzips his pants, pulls a towel out, tosses the towel away, and then awkwardly zips his pants back up on the last horrible note.

Wednesday night's show...

OMG, they've got Joan Collins as a guest judge! Oh, wait, sorry, it's just Carole Bayer Sager. With a huge wig. Or several wigs. Home to some cats, I think. Cats who just gave birth. Seacrest delivers the standard "Hang on kids, I'm about to explain who the fuck Carole Bayer Sager is for you" introduction. He says that CBS "has penned some of the greatest love songs in music history." That's right, IN MUSIC HISTORY. And what are her most famous? Let's see, there's "Arthur's Theme" (that's the one about the moon and New York City), "Theme From Ice Castles," "Don't Cry Out Loud," "That's What Friends Are For," and "A Groovy Kind of Love."

I'm down for the "Theme From Ice Castles." But seriously those other songs suck big moose.

The Yeses:

The Crying Girl. Crying Girl cries before the audition, during the audition, and after the audition. She doesn't get approval from her father. So being famous is going to fix all that. It's the celebrity Achilles' Heel. They all want Mommy's and Daddy's approval. But guess what, young lady? When you win the Grammy or the Oscar or whatever, your father still won't love you. And I think it's all an act. But CBS is at least impressed with Crying Girl's ability to shed tears, since her own ducts have been Botoxed to Jupiter and back.

The Best Friends. They love to shop and wear bikinis on the beach. And they can both sing pretty well. The show is dying to have them catfight and pull each other's hair. I would like this too. They wind it up by telling one friend she's better than the other. Simon pours more gasoline on it by telling the better one, "When someone's down on the floor, kick them." You can feel the story editors' glee radiating off the screen in big hot sexy waves.

Kia and Her Amazing DMV Nails. Kia sings Aretha's "Ain't No Way." She's great. So is her manicure.

Tyson Beckford 2. He's a 16-year-old modelish kid who can sing. When he's done, Paula is sitting in a puddle. Maybe Randy too. Definitely Seacrest.

Mighty Isis. She's got curly dark hair and a giant medallion affixed to her abdomen. She looks like Simon's girlfriend, so he gives her the Tex Avery wolf eyeball-popping AH-OOOOH-GAH! face for a moment. She can sing well enough. As if any of them heard a note coming out of her mouth. Never let it be said that foxy people do not get way more than they deserve in life.

More pee-yellow papers to some girl named Porcelana, a candy-raver opera-singing teenager, a cute boy with five days of beard growth, an African-American woman who brought her entire singing, dancing it-takes-a-village clan to the audition with her, and a guy from last season who fucked up "Build Me Up Buttercup" so badly in the Hollywood round that he voluntarily quit the competition. But he's back and CBS calls him "wonderful." So do the cats living in her Joan Collins wig.

The Nos:

Ian Benardo. He's a shticky queen who also auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance. He wears fur and talks in a Long Guyland fake accent, busts generic diva moves, and serves only to irritate the judges and all of America. So I kind of approve, even if his act is all borrowed, for no other reason than that he calls Carrie Underwood "Carrie Underwear." I know, I'm in second grade.

The Nia Vardalos Impersonator. She sucks. Being big and fat and Greek isn't enough.

The Not-Famous Ashanti. She's been on the show twice already and gone to Hollywood both times. Both times she's been chopped. She tries again. Sings Minnie Riperton's "Loving You," not leaving out the crazy high note at the end. She's stagy, desperate, needy, and fake-grinning throughout. Simon calls her "affected," and they dump her once and for all.

Then she lashes out.

"Did I engage you? Simon, you don't understand... I have fought so hard for this... Please let me finish... How was my intonation, how was my timing, how was my pitch? What do you need to hear from me? If you would give me a chance, America would love me. They would love me!"

In her mind she's Effie White and this is her chance to sing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." There really should be counselors stationed in movie theater lobbies for people who've just seen Dreamgirls. CBS just stares at all this with cold, unfeeling eyes. Welcome to week 2 of Ha! You Signed a Release!

Next is Bank Teller Guy. He calls himself an "Average Joe" who doesn't want his talent to go to waste. He wants to make people scream and to be the center of attention. "You work at a bank," asks Paula. "Is that fun?" He assures her that it is. Then he sings horribly. When they ask him to try another song he whips out a harmonica and plays that instead.

A guy named William with a high-pitched voice and no discernable male secondary sex characteristics. The show loves men like this because it gives them a chance to be all Glen or Glenda with the raised eyebrows and genderphobia. It's comforting in its reliability.

Then another guy comes in with plucked eyebrows (please, gays, stop this insanity) and an even higher, completely female vocal delivery. The small crowd in my house, all of them fans of Paris Is Burning, look at each other and announce, "Butch queen! First time in drags at a ball!" But when Simon says the same thing, Paula smacks him and calls him an "asshole." I mean, yes, Simon is an asshole, but he's just telling it like it is.

"Little Shirley." That's what she calls herself. She spent her life screaming away in church (like Shirley Caesar, hence the nickname), but can't handle a soft ballad to save her life. So they ditch her and she cries.

Mentally Unstable Girl in Red Cowboy Hat. She sings, cries, and rants. She may be an actress doing "crazy" for her reel. She may just actually be having an emotional breakdown. I'm not sure. Also, I don't really care.

Isadora Whose Name Is Really Julie. She has a cowboy hat too. And possibly actual mental illness. She's the one they previewed last week, the orgasm singer who just moans and huffs her way through the song, the one I said I'd buy an entire CD from if she only would make one available for purchase. I like her because she's a freak-out, singing a medley of "Lady Marmalade" and "Piece of My Heart." It's like what would happen if Paula Cole ate three Sara Lee pound cakes a day for a month and then smoked dope and masturbated on national television. Who doesn't want to watch that?

Rounding out the episode, we also get a montage of judge reactions, only suddenly one of those judges is Olivia Newton-John. Or maybe CBS is also a shapeshifter in addition to being a homeless shelter for cats who like to live in wigs. I'm hoping for the latter. It's better television.

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